Italy will create an extra 16,000 spots in hosting facilities for refugees from Ukraine. The government also declared a state of emergency and allocated €10 million to emergency aid.
The Italian government on Monday (February 28) declared a state of emergency until December 31, 2022 in order to provide assistance for Ukrainian refugees in Italy. They allocated an additional €10 million to the country's Emergency Fund to deal with the crisis.
The cabinet also approved an additional 13,000 beds in Extraordinary Reception Centers (CAS) and 3,000 others in Italy's System of Reception and Integration (SAI).
The measures followed the decision on Friday (February 25) to supply the EU Civil Protection Mechanism with 200 tents for a total of 1,000 beds which will be sent to Poland to set up refugee camps.
Hundreds of thousands flee Ukraine
The council of ministers on Monday also decided that Ukrainian citizens can be hosted in CAI centers "regardless of whether they have applied for international protection," the government said in a statement.
Available places in CAS centers and in the SAI system, which had "already increased after the Afghan crisis [...] will be dedicated to the needs of hosting and welcoming Ukrainian refugees," according to the government statement.
The SAI provides accommodation in small facilities or with families and services, including healthcare and social assistance, as well language courses, professional training and courses to help find jobs.
So far, 677,000 people have fled Ukraine following the Russian invasion -- mostly to neighbor countries like Poland and Hungary, though small groups of refugees have also arrived in EU countries further west, including Italy.
If fighting in Ukraine continues, millions of people are expected to flee the country that has a population of roughly 44 million.
250,000 Ukrainians already in Italy
Italy already has a substantial Ukrainian community -- approximately 250,000 people are living in the Mediterranean country, many of whom still have family in Ukraine. The relatives of Ukrainian residents are presumed to be among the first refugees to arrive in Italy.
The Italian civil protection department and the Interior Ministry have said that they are working to prepare the next steps.
A number of meetings were held in prefectures across Italy to plan how to assist Ukrainian refugees. Charities and churches, meanwhile, have mobilized to provide assistance and services.